Ruth Chandler Cook, founder of HireHer, shares how individuals and organizations can support women and minority entrepreneurs

Ruth Cook is an entrepreneur who leads HireHer’s efforts to connect diverse talent with innovative industries faster. Through the HireHer technology and services, Ruth enables employers to recruit, engage and retain diverse talent.

Take me back to the moment you decided to launch HireHer. What inspired you to take the leap?

Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, I have always dreamed of owning my own business. Also, the cruel realities many women, including myself, confront in the workplace motivated me.

But it was my late sister, Lynne, that really inspired me. Her stories were particularly compelling although familiar. She worked as an engineer in a male dominated industry where harassment and bigotry were rampant. What troubled her the most were the barriers to advancing her career despite her awesome accomplishments.

I launched HireHer to eliminate barriers for those who are working in fields where they are underrepresented and therefore struggle to advance their career. My goal for HireHer is to ensure all women to have a path beyond mid-career.

That’s really inspiring. You’ve spoken of the importance of men being strong allies for women. Tell me about some of the men in your life that have supported you in your journey.

I have five brothers, a loving father and a supportive husband. My sister and I were the only girls among all these men. So, I can say firsthand that men are great allies! They really excel when you tell them exactly what you need and how they can best help. During my founding journey and launch, men have advocated for me, opened doors, made introductions, and proudly said, “she is worth it!”

My first ally was my father. But to just mention one or two allies would be unfair. I feel like I am surrounded by a Universe of male allies who know there is a problem, want to help me fix it and are willing to provide resources and opportunities to ensure my success. To me, this is quite beautiful.

It sounds like you have an amazing support group. What is something most people don’t know about you?

I really like this question. I was worried you were going to ask, “What is your favorite, puppies or unicorns?” And that would have been tough. What people don’t know about me is I am a huge dog lover! I own Akita dogs, and I love to train them in both Japanese and English. They are so fun, brave, strong and nice pillows after a long day.

Puppies versus unicorns would have been very hard! I love both too. Aside from your family, who do you find inspiring?

All these brave women telling their stories in real time and vivid detail is also inspiring. The sheer strength and bravery of every single woman in the #MeToo #TimesUp movement is amazing and, frankly, inspiration doesn’t fully capture the sentiment. I am proud and comforted. I am also inspired by the quiet acknowledgment of those who support the movement who are living it, have experienced or witnessed it, but aren’t ready or can’t risk telling their story. Honestly, I feel like I am standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands of sisters, and they hold me up and inspire me each day. I am fighting with them and for them.

If you could have three wishes granted, what would they be?

1. Peace on earth

2. Loving kindness for all by all

3. Stuff for all that “they” need to survive happily

When you think of HireHer in 5 years, what do you see?

I see broken barriers for women who now advance their careers as high as their aspiration, determination and education will take them.

Exciting new advancements in innovative industries have improved society. This is in part due to the inclusion of women and underrepresented groups in decision making occupations. Thanks to supportive investors aligned with the HireHer mission, and all the women and men who utilize our offerings, HireHer will give back to communities by supporting educational opportunities and the advancement of women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and math.

On the horizon, we can see scientific breakthroughs and technological problems solved by the talent we provide and cultivate.

That’s a great goal and vision. February being Black History Month, it’s safe to say we’ll see a heavy focus this month on empowering black entrepreneurs. But what can individuals and organizations do throughout the year to support black entrepreneurs, especially women?

Invest in their promise. Listen, empathize, uplift and walk the talk. Showcase their talent and believe in it. Contribute to their success. Celebrate them and your contributions toward positive outcomes. If empowered to create opportunities, do it. Be bold, not bashful, as you are creating the future. Make it bright!